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FIRST-PERSON: The day of the evangelist

GALLATIN, Tenn. (BP)–There has never been a time in history that we needed the gifted and anointed evangelist more than today. The coldness of the saints, the carelessness of sinners and the condition of society are but a few reasons why we need revival.

Ephesians 4:11-12 says, “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ” (KJV).

Is the day of the evangelist over? Is the relevance of mass evangelism and even revival meetings in the local church an event of the past? Does the Bible speak to these issues or is the final result up to public opinion?

Well, fortunately the answer is found in the Word of God and is not open to debate. Not only is the day of the evangelist still alive and well, there has never been a time in history that we needed the gifted and anointed evangelist more than today. Our Scripture gives us a clear word about the value of the evangelist and the revival or harvest event.

However, the real issue at hand is the use of the God-called New Testament evangelist. What can we glean from the Word of God?

First of all, when an evangelist is used it gives the church an opportunity to adhere to the Word of God.

In Ephesians 4:11, the Bible speaks of the pastor and the evangelist as both being a legitimate New Testament offices. The word used in Ephesians 4:11 is best translated a messenger of good tidings. The word denotes a preacher of the Gospel who is not located in one place but travels sharing the Good News.

A local church would not think of neglecting the office of the pastor but yet countless churches have abandoned the use of the evangelist. It is clear that not only should churches use the God-called evangelist but should support an evangelist with prayers and finances. Those who are called to be an evangelist are gifted and called alongside the pastor to bring in the harvest and to awaken the body of Christ. There is undoubtedly a special anointing that is given to those whom God has called to function in this capacity. That is why it is so vital that the New Testament office of the evangelist not be neglected.

I know that every pastor reading this believes the Word of God and that, as long as Ephesians 4:11-12 is in the Bible, the office of the evangelist is still relevant and essential to complete the task that our Heavenly Father has given the church. So, in order to follow this biblical mandate, there is really no alternative to using an evangelist.

Another reason that the evangelist should be used it that it advances the Gospel.

Statistically, it is clear that conversions and baptisms are closely attached to the local church that uses evangelists and holds evangelistic and harvest events. The Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy in 1 Timothy 2:5, “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” There has never been a time in history that this message needs to be proclaimed in a clear and precise manner more than today.

Evangelists not only see people saved but they also are used to stir up the body of Christ to be a bold witness. The evangelist, for the most part, has a single focus of preaching the simple Gospel message and has an anointing to stir up the body of Christ to advance the Gospel. I was recently in a city in the Midwest where we experienced a powerful move of God. More than 40 people were saved. One night a lady whom the pastor had never met showed up with her two sons. She left her two boys to eat pizza and went home to get her husband. All four of them came to the crusade and the entire family was saved. The husband, in turn, invited his brother and he gave his life to Jesus the following evening. All of this was a result of ladies from the church sharing with the ladies in their office what Jesus was doing in their church. This excitement came from a revival meeting where an evangelist was used. I have seen students, hundreds of times, bring their friends to Jesus after their lives were touched as a result of a harvest event.

There is yet a third reason that the evangelist is needed, drawing from Ephesians 4:11-12: The evangelist assists in addressing moral issues of the community. The word “perfecting” is translated “equip” or “to make right.” It gives us the picture of a doctor setting a bone or a fisherman mending his nets. When the Gospel is preached and the effects are seen, there is no doubt that the power of the Gospel corrects, mends, sets in order what was broken in the arena of morality.

I have been in numerous revival meetings and crusades where alcohol, drugs, pornography, godless music and filthy videos were laid on the altar. Where did all of this come from? Primarily from the homes of those who were confronted with the Gospel and had their lives radically changed. Countless numbers of marriages have been strengthened, students and parents reconciled, and homes in general restored and revived as a result of the use of a revival meeting. You would be hard-pressed to deny the fact that when the Gospel is preached, a God consciousness is raised and the presence of God brings forth a moral change. Don’t you think that when the drug dealer, the gang member, the abusive husband, the rebellious child, the religious prisoner, meets Jesus it will change the climate of a community? Recently in Kenya I preached a massive crusade in a city of 400,000. Officials told me that after the crusade the crime rate had dropped 20-25 percent.

A fourth reason the evangelist should not be neglected is that the use of revivals and the evangelist awakens the church.

Paul further says in Ephesians 4:12 that the evangelist encourages the church to do the work of the ministry that assists in edifying the body of Christ. The word “ministry” presents the idea of an “occupation” or “to be employed.” It is where we get our word “servant.” It is one who stirs up the dust, one who is busy about the business of the Lord that results in the building up and the promoting of the body of Christ.

There has never been a time that the church needed revival and needed to be awakened any more than today. God has given a unique call to the evangelist to do just that. We have heard for years that the majority of our churches are declining. There needs to be a fresh wind of heaven blowing across our churches. Well-planned revival meetings led by an evangelist have been used over and over to see this come to pass.

In the Scripture we see that on special occasions God’s people would be called together for a time of refreshing, a time for God’s people to be stirred, changed and called to action. The coldness of the saints, the carelessness of sinners and the condition of society are but a few reasons why we need revival. Many pastors are discouraged, many people are distracted and a great percentage of the population of the world is deceived. If you were to read the next verses in Ephesians you would see these are the very things Paul was concerned about as he wrote to the church at Ephesus. He said that the gifted men that God has given to the church were to keep us from deadly doctrine, cunning craftiness and satanic schemes that would damn the sinner and derail the believer from being an instrument of righteousness in an unrighteous world.

To accomplish such an enormous task as laid out for us in the Word of God, the church cannot ignore the use of the gifted evangelist. What is the end of the matter? Plan an evangelistic event; invite a God-called, New Testament, anointed evangelist to preach, and see what the Lord will do! The evangelist has committed his life to see souls saved and revival come to God’s people. Unwrap the gift of the evangelist and present it to your church.
Bill Britt, immediate past president of the Conference of Southern Baptist Evangelists, is the president and founder of Compel Outreach International based in Gallatin, Tenn. As a fulltime vocational evangelist, Britt leads area-wide crusades, local church revivals, harvest Sundays and other evangelism initiatives. Britt is on the Web at www.compeloutreach.org. He also can be reached by e-mailing [email protected]; calling 615-452-0710; or writing to 2100 Nashville Pike Gallatin, TN 37066.

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  • Bill Britt